Hamas tunnel destroyed in IAF airstrikes; 1.5 kilo tunnel entered Israeli and Egyptian territory; IDF confirms tunnel was used for smuggling and planning terror attacks; Lieberman: The message to Gaza’s leadership and residents is clear- invest in the sanctity of life and not these burial tunnels.
The Israel Air Force confirmed it destroyed a Hamas tunnel in the Gaza Strip this weekend. The most recent Hamas tunnel was built under the Kerem Shalom border crossing, the IDF confirming the tunnel was located using technology implemented along the underground barrier built on the border with the Strip.
The tunnel ran close to 1.5 kilometers and entered 180 meters into Israeli territory under the Kerem Shalom border and into Egypt around the Rafah border crossing. It was used by the terrorist group for smuggling and planned terror attacks, the IDF not giving specifics given an active investigation.
The Israel Air Force carried out airstrikes Saturday night on the tunnel, confirming the tunnel was a “serious threat to Israeli civilians and a threat to the humanitarian efforts that Israel allows for the people in the Gaza Strip.” It stated on the airstrikes Saturday that it “targeted a terror infrastructure using fighter jets in the southern Rafah region, adjacent to the Egypt-Gaza border. The Hamas terror organization is accountable for all activity in and from the Gaza Strip.”
The IDF confirmed the tunnel was a Hamas-constructed, terror tunnel given its strategic locations on border crossings, near military locations and gas and oil pipelines. It stated on the attack “The thwarting of the terrorist tunnel, the third in Israeli territory in recent weeks, is more proof of the IDF’s advanced operational, intelligence and technological capabilities. It is a blatant violation of Israel’s sovereignty, endangers the citizens of Israel and sabotages humanitarian efforts that Israel is making for the citizens of the Gaza Strip.”
Israel last detected and destroyed a tunnel in the Strip last week. The Israel Air Force carried out airstrikes following rocket attacks on southern Israel destroying a “significant terror infrastructure. The IDF did not give specifics on the mission carried out, just that it would continue and “will proceed with all the tools at its disposal above and below the ground to thwart attempts to harm Israeli citizens.”
A tunnel was also destroyed in December, a tunnel running from the city of Khan Younis into Israel, the IDF destroying the tunnel during escalation and clashes on the border between Hamas militants and IDF forces at the time. Previously, IDF had detected and destroyed a tunnel in October around the same time the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) also reported that it had also discovered of a Hamas tunnel under one of its schools in the Gaza Strip.
Before his flight to India for a weeklong tour in India, Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the strike on the tunnel amidst false media reports. He confirmed the strike, warning against Hamas’ “hostile infrastructures”, stating “This evening, the IDF attacked a main Hamas terrorist infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. There are some who say that the IDF attacks sand dunes – this is incorrect. We are responding to aggression against the State of Israel and are taking vigorous and systematic action against hostile infrastructures.”
Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called on Gazans to “invest in life and not these burial tunnels,” stating on the tunnel’s destruction “The destruction of the attack tunnels is an essential component of the policy of systematically striking Hamas’s strategic capabilities. The message to Gaza’s leadership and residents is clear- invest in the sanctity of life and not these burial tunnels.”